What do Steve Jobs, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg and Alicia Keys have in common?
They all dropped out of college.
While college paves the road to success for many, it’s not the only road to take. Companies that still require college degrees for entry level jobs are missing out, because a college degree alone is a poor predictor of future job performance. Nonetheless, many employers require a college degree when screening candidates.
Recruitment Needs Are Challenging Long Held Hiring Mindsets
The July 2022 online HRDIVE article entitled “Employers say they still require degrees despite skills-based hiring push,” supports the notion that companies can miss out on talent if they put too much weight on a college degree. I agree that requiring a college degree is an outdated mindset that turns away exceptional talent. Data from the journal American Psychologist supports this assertion.
Figure 1 -- Employee Performance Predictors
Figure 1 above shows that education, at a 53-55% hit rate, would yield the right hire slightly more often than a random coin flip. Yet many companies still use educational degree requirements and experience to screen candidates. Here is an actual employment ad to illustrate the point:
* Bachelor's degree in STEM field.
* Advanced degree or additional quality systems or leadership education/certification/training.
* 10+ years’ experience required in at least three departments, divisions, internal or external locations.
Figure 1 also shows low ratings for interest (I really want this job), one-on-one interviews (the most widely used selection tool), and years of experience (one year of bad experience 20 times). In comparison, the highest predictor of employee performance is a cognitive ability test. “Ability” is the key word here.
Ability Trumps a College Degree
“Ability” brings me to the part of the article that I disagree with - a skills-based approach to hiring. At 15dots, we recommend an ability-based approach. Skills and abilities are two completely different classes of behavior. Skills are built on or developed from the abilities established early in life. Skills are not stable. They wax and wane, whereas abilities are stable and resistant to change. To fully understand the difference between skills and abilities, check out this article by my 15dots colleague, Joe Nowlin, "Discerning Talent in Challenging Times: Why HR Needs to Look Beyond Skill Set."
15dots advises employers to select employees based on abilities, using a behavioral-based interview. Referring back to the employee performance predictor chart, Structured Board Interviews are No. 4. In comparison, one-on-one interviews are No. 8.
Pre-Employment Tests & Board Interviews
“That’s the way it’s always been done” isn’t a good excuse for companies that still require college degrees for entry level jobs. It’s time to look past education and experience and instead focus on abilities which should be measured in pre-employment tests and structured board interviews. A college degree matters less than an underlying, all-around ability to perform well.
Break Free of Arbitrary Job Requirements
Contact 15dots to break free of arbitrary selection requirements like college degrees. Discover the tools and methods to elevate employee selection success in your organization.